U.S. trade authorities on Thursday announced an investigation into yet another Chinese export product, this time the veritable kitchen sink.

The U.S. Commerce Department said it is examining whether China is selling steel sinks below fair value and if Chinese sink manufacturers are getting unfair subsidies.

Trade disputes between China and the United States are legion. The two economic powers have already sparred over the import and export of solar panels to tires to chickens.

Now that list includes "imports of drawn stainless steel sinks" -- or kitchen sinks.

The business -- while a fraction of the U.S.-China's half a trillion dollar a year trade -- is not something to let slip down the drain.

Chinese sink exports to the United States were worth $118 million in 2011, nearly double the level seen in 2009, according to official figures.

The Elkay Manufacturing Co. of Illinois had requested the investigation.

In a statement earlier this month, Elkay claimed Chinese sinks were "being sold in the U.S. at substantially less than fair value and are illegally subsidized."

"Chinese sink imports have increased dramatically over the past three years due to significant underselling by Chinese manufacturers," said Steve Rogers, Elkay chief operating officer.

China is said to have sold the sinks at 23% to 77% markdown.

U.S. authorities are expected to make their judgment around April 16.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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